Infiniti to offer virtual test drives at Pebble Beach
Premium carmaker Infiniti is embracing virtual reality in order to bring a new dimension to its display at one of the world's most prestigious motoring events.
Visitors to the Infiniti pavilion at the Pebble Beach Concours Plaza this week will be able to don a headset and get to both see and feel what it's like to drive the company's latest concept cars.
At November's LA Auto Show, Volvo became the first car company to officially embrace Google's project cardboard virtual reality headsets by offering visitors a virtual test-drive of its latest flagship SUV.
And in the months that have passed since, Audi, Mercedes and Lexus have all been experimenting with virtual reality as a way of offering car fans and potential owners a more immersive means of making a buying decision.
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Like Volvo, Infiniti is using a headset based on the Google Cardboard design that turns potentially any large-display Android smartphone into a virtual reality device and will be using it to give visitors to its display a virtual guided tour of the design process. An app called 'From Pencil to Metal' will walk users through the story of how its QX30 concept car came to be, from initial sketches to the final model.
However, the luxury marque is going one step further and, in partnership with CXC Simulators, has also developed an even more immersive virtual reality experience called 'The Dream Road.' It combines a headset with real-world physics and movement to transport participants to some of the world's best drivers' roads and put them behind the wheel of the Q60 concept car.
To ensure the experience is as close to reality as possible, Infiniti sent out professional drivers on roads including the Stelvio Pass in Italy to ensure that everything from G-force to the sensation of road surfaces were exact.
Both VR experiences will also be available as apps to download and for consumers to use at home, thanks to a partnership with The Enthusiasts Network (TEN), the sports publisher and broadcaster.
'The Pebble Beach Concours is the perfect stage for Infiniti and TEN to showcase the best in automotive style and technology,' said Allyson Witherspoon, director of marketing communications for Infiniti. 'This innovative partnership invites the automotive enthusiast at Pebble Beach to transport themselves virtually and in real life with unique Infiniti experiences and celebrate with us the latest vehicles in the Infiniti line up.'
Following the event, the two experiences will be turned into 360-degree films that will become the centerpiece of what Infiniti says will be the world's first-ever YouTube 360 automotive advertising campaign when it goes live on August 15.